With Americans facing rising gas prices, yesterday President Obama outlined the next steps in his comprehensive energy plan that will help to alleviate pain at the pump and move us towards energy independence. However, even though the United States’ demand for foreign oil is at a 16-year low under President Obama, big oil companies are earning near-record profits as gasoline prices rise and are fighting to save their subsidies that do nothing to increase our oil independence, relieving American consumers from the uncertainty of global oil markets and rising gas prices.
Two famous Big Oil tycoons—the billionaire Koch brothers—are sponsoring tomorrow’s Michigan Prosperity Forum, headlined by none other than Mitt Romney. As giants of the oil and gas industry, David and Charles Koch are eager to maintain support for a candidate that will ensure they continue to make billions.
While there is no silver bullet that can immediately bring down gas prices, there are some decisions a leader can make to affect the price of gas. When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he decided to voluntarily raise a tax on gas, even breaking his “no new taxes” pledge to do it:
In his first year as governor, Romney increased a delivery fee for gasoline from half a cent to 2.5 cents per gallon, affecting every motorist in Massachusetts.
When Romney decided to quintuple this gas tax, Bay Staters were already paying a 21-cent-per-gallon state tax on gasoline.
The “backdoor tax increase” was also “clearly excessive,” as it generated more than $40 million a year above the actual cost of the program the tax was intended to pay for.
Noting how Romney “was elected on a no-new-taxes promise,” the Boston Herald criticized him, claiming his gas surcharge was “a tax, not a fee.” And Boston Herald columnist Cosmo Macero, Jr. slammed Romney for breaking his pledge with the “gas-tax hike,” saying the cover is gone from Mitt’s “no new taxes” pledge.
By contrast, President Obama extended a tax cut—the payroll tax cut—to make sure that drivers have more money in their pockets to pay for the rising price of gas. He is also pushing an all-of-the-above approach to domestic energy production, not only boosting the development of oil and gas, but also a wide range of cleaner forms of energy, which will help address energy prices now and in the future.
So if the Koch brothers are looking for a candidate who can keep gas prices high, they might have found him: Mitt Romney.